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Brahmas Claw Their Way To Shootout Loss

Photo courtesy of Rebekah Bing Photography: forward Austin Bottrell scored late in regulation to force overtime to give the Lone Star Brahmas one point in the standings, but the Fairbanks Ice Dogs eventually took a 3-2 shootout win.


The Lone Star Brahmas closed out their weekend series against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs with only a single point after a 3-2 shootout loss. The Ice Dogs now have points in an NAHL season high 18 straight games.

In contrast to the quick start that Fairbanks got on Friday, the Brahmas held the Ice Dogs in check for much of the opening frame. A Kyle Hallbauer interference minor at 3:53 handed the Ice Dogs an early man advantage opportunity. However, the Brahmas excellent penalty killing was on display holding Fairbanks at bay including Aidan Spellacy doing what he does best filling shooting lanes to block a couple of shots and setting up a breakaway opportunity for himself.

At the 19:05 mark of the third the teams lined up for a faceoff just outside the Brahmas’ blueline which was pulled back to Noah Wilson at center ice and he fed it across to Nolan Schaeffer at the near redline. Schaeffer dumped the puck high off the glass behind Mitchell Gibson’s net. The carom bounded back out into the slot splitting Jakub Sirota and Drew lennon and onto the tape of Caleb Hite on stride for a quick onetimer over Gibson’s left pad.

Lone Star went on their first power play of the night at the 3:17 mark of the second thanks to a Kyle Mayhew interference minor which Chase Pletzke drew with a good hustle play deep in the Ice Dogs’ zone. The faceoff came on the left wing with Ture Linden winning it back to Sirota. Sirota pushed it across to Hallbauer who walked it to the top of the near circle waiting for Steven Ipri to slide in from the back side to set a screen then ripped it past Logan Neaton stick side. The goal came just seven seconds into the man advantage.

The Ice Dogs went back on top at 9:12 of the period after an extended stretch of offensive pressure. Tyler Deweese moved the puck from deep in the corner to John Stampohar. The Frirbanks defenseman swung it across to Jake Willets on the open wing. As Willets wound up, Spellacy slid across for the block but failed to get all of it with the puck going off his body and fluttering high over the glove hand of Gibson.

With 2:06 left in the second Mayhew got another favorable bounce leaving him all alone at the far hash marks with the puck on his stick. He tried to put a quick wrister past Gibson, but the Brahmas netminder pushed hard to get across making a huge save pushing the puck wide.

With 4:37 to go in the third, another odd bounce in front of Gibson’s crease set Jax Murray up low in the left wing circle with a wide open net in front of him. Julian Biondo made the save of the game on a diving poke check to knock the puck loose just as Murray pulled the trigger.

Off a faceoff in front of the Fairbanks bench, Justin Addamo picked the pocket of Luke Orysiuk as he tried to carry it up ice. Addamo skated it to the high slot drawing the defenseman Mayhew to him then hit Austin Bottrell flying in on the back door for a shot over the glove hand of Neaton with 1:44 left on the clock to send the game to overtime.

Fairbanks had a golden opportunity in overtime with Sam Ruffin sprung all alone on a rush up ice. Gibson came out to challenge, backed in and forced the shot wide of the right post with 2:36 to go. Gibson faced another partial breakaway by Mayhew that he wore off his chest to force a shootout.

After Ture Linden was stopped by Neaton as the first shooter Erkka Vanska carried the puck wide right, skated into the near circle and fired one from distance over the glove hand.

Jon Russell was up for Lone Star in the second round with Neaton making a glove save setting the stage for Deweese. The Fairbanks native stick handled the puck down the middle before sending it off the pad of Gibson and into the top right corner for the game winner.

Shots on goal were even at 22 apiece on the night. Lone Star had the only power play goal of the contest going 1-4 while holding Fairbanks off the board in their four opportunities.

During regulation, Gibson was victimized by a couple of odd bounces that resulted in both Fairbanks goals. He played strong in net otherwise including big saves on the breakaways in overtime, but once the final horn sounded the one main weakness in his game this season was exposed in the shootout. Gibson who leads the league in shutouts, has been among the top two or three in goals against average and among league leaders in save percentage all season has allowed seven of 10 shooters to score in shootouts.

That is to take nothing away from what Gibson and the Brahmas’ defense has accomplished so far this season willing the team to 8th overall in the NAHL with an offense that ranks 21st in a 24 team league.



Elsewhere Around the NAHL South

Amarillo at Corpus Christi

The Amarillo Bulls pulled a split out of their series on the gulf coast thanks in great part to ex-Brahmas Jared Domin and Austin O’Rourke. In the first, Jason Brancheau opened the scoring with an assist from Domin. Corpus Christi tied it up before the end of the frame. The Icerays would score the next two, but Amarillo would come storming back with Trey Bagwell and Brendan Michaelian with an assist from O’Rourke to knot the score again. The teams would trade goals again in the third with Josh Deluca scoring for the Bulls and Domin picking up his second assist of the night to force overtime. Just six seconds into the extra frame, Domin netted the game winner on an assist from O’Rourke. Jason Grande picked up the win on 18 saves.

Topeka at Shreveport

The Mudbugs completed the weekend sweep of the Topeka RoadRunners. Cameron Cook had the only tally of the first to take a lead into the second. After Topeka pulled even, Cook scored his second of the game just 35 seconds later. Jordan Fader added an empty net goal for the 3-1 final. Gustav Gringals needed only 11 saves to record the win.

Current NAHL South Div Standings

1 Shreveport Mudbugs 36 26 5 3 2 57
2 Odessa Jackalopes 36 21 12 2 1 45
3 Lone Star Brahmas 34 17 10 4 3 41
4 Corpus Christi IceRays 38 16 14 3 5 40
5 Amarillo Bulls 33 12 14 4 3 31
6 Topeka RoadRunners 39 12 24 1 2 27

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